Sangyub David Kim, born and raised in Seoul, Korea, was accepted by multiple American universities. He decided to attend the University of Iowa’s pre-business program because the UI was praised and recommended by many people in Korea and its business programs were well known there.
Now, as a senior majoring in finance, Kim still remembers the challenges he faced when he first started his undergraduate studies at the UI. “It felt like I was a first-generation student although both of my parents graduated from college in Korea. I didn’t have someone in my family to ask what to do in the U.S.,” Kim recalls. “It was my first time in the U.S.; I had to speak English all day and get used to American and Iowan cultures. From job search to learning some basic norms in a business setting, almost everything was new to me.” Unfortunately, all the effort to adapt to college life was interrupted when Kim had to move back to Korea for three years to fulfill his military duty.
“Thankfully, after returning from the military in Korea, I was fortunate enough to meet a great advisor, Joelle Brown, who would give me great advice and motivational push to set up goals and achieve them,” Kim says. In their initial meetings, Kim told Brown that he wanted to engage more in student organizations. She suggested multiple organizations including the Global Engagement Student Advisory Board (GESAB) in the Tippie College of Business. “I joined the GESAB because I thought it would be interesting to help other international students engage more and excel.”
A semester later, Kim was nominated by some faculty members to run for the Tippie Senate. He strategically organized an election campaign and initiatives, and then gave a speech regarding what he would do as a Tippie senator to every class that he was taking at the time. “Luckily, I got elected. Working with other senators in the Tippie Senate allowed me to set up higher campus involvement goals, which led me to join more student organizations, including Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity, International Student Ambassadors, the Korean Conversational Group, the Global Engagement Student Advisory Board, the Global Student Awards committee, HawkTrade Stock Investment Club, and Korean UIowa Student Association,” Kim adds. Due to his outstanding leadership, Kim was recently selected as a Tippie Top 21 award recipient.
Additionally, Kim has been supported by Tippie faculty members while looking for internship and career opportunities. “I reached out to former Associate Dean Ken Brown and current Associate Dean Charles Keene for career development advice and they gave me great connections and tips. My professors also guided me on some different paths that I could take and helped me grow networks,” Kim says. Planning to graduate in December 2022, Kim also actively utilizes various career development resources on campus, including the Division of Sponsored Programs, the Pomerantz Career Center, and the Frank Business Communication Center. This summer, Kim will work as an undergraduate research assistant on the topic: Interest Rate Derivative, Quantitative Finance.
According to Kim, compared to other universities with higher international student population percentages, the UI could feel intimidating for some peers who think it might be hard to adapt and succeed as an international student. “However, if you try to break the walls and rise to challenges, there are so many good resources and staff and faculty members willing to help. Just like there are two sides of the same coin, the UI’s smaller number of international students could lead you to greater opportunities as a unique person who stands out,” Kim shares. “Be willing to accept new things and say yes to every opportunity that comes your way, because it will guide you to greater opportunities. If you can do it at Iowa, you will for sure become a global leader!”